May 19, 2018 - May 25, 2018
Author John Connolly reimagines comedian Stan Laurel in ‘he’
Oline H. Cogdill
referred to by name, the he of the eponymous “he” is comedian Stan
Laurel, who with Oliver Hardy, was half of Laurel and Hardy, one of the
most successful and beloved comic teams in the early 20th century. With
only the pronouns of he or him, author John Connolly reimagines Laurel
in both abstract and three-dimensional ways, getting to the soul of
Laurel, the comic, the multi-married, forever-in-debt-with-alimony and
“He” has no plot
and is written as a memoir and with a stream-of-consciousness approach
with short chapters, some only a couple of paragraphs long, as Connolly
looks at Laurel’s life and career, showing the man’s flaws and foibles.
“He” also is a story of Old Hollywood when the medium of movies was just
gearing up, a story of gossip, of myth and of what makes a legend. “He”
is gracefully written and maintains its lyrical look at the comic,
despite being a bit too long.
between Laurel’s last days in a Santa Monica apartment to his career
that began around 1906 when the 16-year-old made his first appearance at
a London music hall. Those early years were tough, noted for long hours
and little pay. Along the way, Laurel met Charlie Chaplin, who long
before he became a Hollywood star showed his genius, inspiring awe and
jealousy among his fellow comics. “Chaplin is different, touched by a
god, but which god? There is discipline in Chaplin’s anarchy ...”
Traveling on the same ship as Chaplin, Laurel finds the United States a
series of cold flats and performances in sleazy theaters on the
vaudeville circuit until he stumbles into the burgeoning movie industry.
Laurel and Oliver
Hardy, affectionately known as Babe, both had careers in Hollywood
before their accidental partnership. The Laurel and Hardy team was
kismet for both comics, with more than 100 movies featuring their
slapstick comedy from the late 1920s through the mid-1940s. The two men
were genuinely fond of each other, and after Babe died, Laurel never
again performed. Their careers were controlled by the early studio
system, especially under manipulative producer Hal Roach, “a colorful
man trapped in a black and white world” who staggered their contracts so
neither could quit at the same time.
meticulous research touches on unfair contract negotiations, how sound
changed the business and the treatment of actors and especially young
actresses as disposable commodities. The unusual “He” also showcases
Connolly’s varied talents. (AP)
May 12, 2018 - May 18, 2018
‘Miss Subways’ is a quirky novel by David Duchovny
known for his acting roles in TV series such as “The X-Files,” David
Duchovny has the writing gene as well. “Miss Subways” is a quirky,
wholly original — and at times baffling — novel that tackles an Irish
myth and gives it a contemporary spin, mixing it with legends and
stories from other worlds.
What starts as a
simple story of a woman in love turns into a battle with fate.
Emer commutes every
day on the New York subway to her job, and she daydreams of a better
life. Her boyfriend, Con, lives with her and is a struggling writer. One
night after a lecture, she waits for him to come home while he hangs out
with a mysterious woman named Anansi. In the middle of the night, she
gets a knock at the door expecting Con. But it’s a tiny doorman named
Sid who tells her she must make a choice. Con is about to die, but she
can save him by giving him up forever with no memory of them knowing
each other. If she refuses, his life is over.
Her answer and the
ramifications of her decision spin the story to an endearing conclusion.
dialogue and various monsters and mythologies to weave this tale that’s
probably not for everyone. While rooting for Emer and Con to find
happiness, readers will also question fate and reality.
reads like a hybrid of the TV show “Twin Peaks” and the 1998 film
“Sliding Doors” merged with a love letter to New York City. A wild and
unpredictable journey from Duchovny’s bold imagination awaits readers.
May 5, 2018 - May 11, 2018
‘Space Odyssey’ robustly explores
Douglass K. Daniel
Fifty years ago,
moviegoers had their minds blown by director Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A
Space Odyssey.” To this day some of them still aren’t quite sure what it
Was an alien
intelligence behind the monolith? What went wrong with the computer
known as HAL? Does the way station in the afterlife really look like a
Louis XIV hotel suite? Did Dr. Floyd’s daughter get her bush baby?
Seriously, part of
Kubrick’s genius — and that of his co-screenwriter, Arthur C. Clarke —
was not to spell out everything, thus challenging people to ponder the
futuristic mythology unspooling before them. “If anyone understands it
on the first viewing,” Clarke said at the time, “we’ve failed in our
Failure? Not when
many consider “2001” the greatest science-fiction movie ever made and
one of the landmarks of cinema, period.
Whether you’ve not
seen “2001” recently or not seen it at all, do so before tackling
Michael Benson’s exhaustive account of its creation. “Space Odyssey:
Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece” is a
movie wonk’s dream, launching its rich narrative with the written
invitation from Kubrick to Clarke in 1964 to create what Kubrick hoped
would be the first “really good” science-fiction film. Scores of books
and videos about “2001” and its director have appeared over the
half-century since its premiere, yet it would be difficult to envision
anything offering the abundance of telling anecdotes, technical detail
and keen insight that fills Benson’s “Space Odyssey.”
The author explains
in great detail the narrative hurdles Kubrick and Clarke faced as they
tried to stay true to what might be possible in space exploration
three-plus decades in the future. For example, they didn’t settle on
astronaut Dave Bowman’s helmetless jump from spacecraft to spacecraft
without assurances that a human being could actually survive several
seconds in a deep-space vacuum.
While Benson gives
Clarke, the movie’s cast and various members of the production team
their well-deserved places in the creation of “2001,” the maddeningly
brilliant, obsessed Kubrick remains its star. He is presented as a
flawed genius, at least in the eyes of his collaborators, a man at times
cold and cruel and at other moments empathetic and generous. Kubrick
cultivated creative people, encouraged them and gave them room to come
up with ideas, yet he was exceedingly stingy when it came to sharing
Kubrick, who died
in 1999 and never saw the actual year 2001, remains as enigmatic as his
movie monolith, a cinematic touchstone for future generations of
April 28, 2018 - May 4, 2018
The man who cannot forget
returns in Baldacci’s ‘The Fallen’
In David Baldacci’s “The Fallen,” Amos
Decker, who had a terrible head injury while playing football, can recall
all of his memories to the slightest detail as if rewinding a recorded
program. He now works with the FBI. He’s on vacation with his partner,
Alex Jamison, who wants to visit her sister in a small town in
Pennsylvania. Things go wrong almost immediately.
The town of Baronville is like many
other small towns, struggling to survive now that the mill has closed and
mining has dried up. Opiod addiction has almost crippled the town as well.
Alex’s sister and her family moved there due to a job promotion, but they
are finding living in this new place is challenging. The first evening of
their visit, Amos witnesses something unusual in the house next door and
ends up stumbling onto the site of a double homicide.
The police acknowledge that these
murders are only the latest in a string of several, and now Amos and Alex’s
plans for a relaxing vacation away from the job have vanished. With his
ability to remember everything, Amos looks over the clues and attempts to
decipher a pattern. When he and Alex are almost killed, Amos realizes that
his memory is now somewhat fuzzy.
Baldacci is a wonderful storyteller,
and he incorporates wonderful characters into baffling conspiracies.
Mimicking the style of his Camel Club series of novels, he takes on
small-town America, capturing both good and bad elements. He demonstrates
why these small towns are worth saving. It’s a theme he has explored
before, but it still has potency and relevance. (AP)